Big, brash, and full of energy, Moscow is a city that knows how to make an impression. But for all its attractions — world-class museums, clubs and rapidly transforming food scene, to name a few — its downsides are impossible to ignore. Traffic-clogged roads, overbearing architecture, unfriendly locals and unforgiving climate all take their toll on the visitor and resident alike. Little wonder that in November Moscow ranked 62nd out of 64 major cities in a global liveability index.
But it shouldn’t have to stay like that. New York, Berlin and London all had their years in the doldrums before turning themselves around. So what’s it going to take in Moscow? The renovation of Gorky Park has been a huge success, fulfilling a desperate need for recreational public space in the city centre. Suddenly, urbanism is the buzzword, as Muscovites take a new interest in the way their city works and how it could be improved. The City Government has responded by unveiling ambitious plans for new parks and regeneration schemes, some of which are already under way.
This week, The Calvert Journal considers Moscow’s prospects, consulting experts at the Moscow Urban Forum, looking in detail at two projects in the pipeline — VDNKh and Zaryadye Park — and checking out some neighbourhoods that are already going places.
“Projects like Zaryadye Park, ZIL and the Moscow River regeneration will set a new agenda for public spaces in Moscow that will last into the near and middle future”
Moscow’s Chief Architect
“Moscow is immense. If you go from the city to the suburbs, it’s an enormous trip. Some amenities are simply too far to reach within a reasonable amount of time”
Urban happiness expert
“Turn the streets, at least in the centre, into boulevards. It’s nice to walk down the street and see green instead of concrete. That would drastically change people’s perception of the city”
“Parks and public spaces close to people’s houses are very good for the citizens. It’s what they’re interested in most – especially the younger and more active people. That’s how we improve trust”
Moscow’s Culture Minister